A discussion on shooting snowflakes

Started Feb 15, 2014 | Discussions thread
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JiminDenver Veteran Member • Posts: 5,189
A discussion on shooting snowflakes

I have been posting images of snowflakes in the WCU and wanted to show you how I do it as well as see how others do it.

Last fall I saw one of Ken Libbrecht's book on snowflakes and being into macro, I was instantly fascinated. Then came the piece on DP about shooting them and even a post on our board and I knew I had to try.

I have been using the E 5, 35mm, EC 20 and foam ring flash on a tripod pointed straight down.

You can see the container with the small LED puck light shining thru the glass. It helps with focusing and makes the flakes translucent for shooting. When I can't light them from under, I use a BBQ LED light with a flexible neck to light them from above.

After setting the glass out to catch some flakes I put it under the lens and use Live View to see what I have.

Once I have the flake composed I take the LV magnification up to 10x so I can focus on the smallest bits. Even though flakes are very thin, they do have depth and you have to decide if you are going to focus on the bottom or top.

To adjust the focus, I use the crank handle that moves the center pole on the tripod. Crude but a squeeze this way or that and you can get just what you want in focus. Once in focus I shot, as returning to the regular screen possible can change the focus.

You can see that the tripod leans in to the table some. I extended the rear leg to put the camera over the table. The table keeps it from tipping over if I extend it too far.

You can see the working distance of the 35mm here, the white speck under it is the flake.

Even though not a good flake, here is the one from the LV above.

That was on a piece of iridescent stained glass and the color is random depending on where the light below is and how the flash above hits the uneven surface,

I've been working with basic settings of SS 250th, ISO 100, f 16 (really f 8 in terms of diffraction) I adjust the flash output as I shoot for different effects.

I also use either a corded or IR remote and a 4 second delay to let everything settle.

After that I look for another flake or if there isn't any, I brush the glass off with a fine paint brush and set the glass out to capture more.

Flake images in the next post. Some are crops, some are not.

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